Nashville New Homes: The gift of freedom.

I know the primary focus of this blog is supposed to be about all the reasons to purchase a new home, but there are sometimes more important things to talk about.  One such topic is the dedication and commitment made to us by everyone that is serving, or has served in the US Armed Forces, as well as their families.   It is their sacrifices that preserve the freedoms we enjoy.

Last night, I was watching a special on wounded warriors on TV.  With a son-in-law, nephew, and numerous friends serving in the military, my thoughts quickly wandered into a series of “what if?” 

This morning, a favorite blog that I subscribe to, http://johnhealdsblog.com/2010/12/27/didja-have-a-happy-christmas/ also payed tribute to wounded warriors and referenced another blog to subscribe to, www.iraqandback.com.    

This afternoon I received the following email, forwarded to me by a fellow agent and friend.   Countless numbers of families and friends are just one phone call away from this experience.  Please read and reflect….

 MAY  GOD BLESS THIS AIRLINE CAPTAIN:
He  writes:
My lead flight attendant came to me and  said, “We  have an H.R. on this
flight.” (H.R.  stands for human remains.) “Are they military?”
I  asked.
‘Yes’,  she said.

‘Is  there an escort?’ I asked.

‘Yes,  I already assigned him a seat’.

‘Would  you please tell him to come to the flight deck.
You can board him early,” I said..

A short while later, a young army sergeant entered the  flight deck.
He was the image of the  perfectly  dressed soldier.
He introduced himself and I asked him about his soldier.
The escorts of  these fallen soldiers talk about  them as if they are  still
alive and still with us.

‘My  soldier is on his way back to Virginia ,’  he said.

He  proceeded to answer my questions, but offered no words.

I  asked him if there was anything I could do for him and  he said  no.
I told him that he had the toughest  job in  the  military and that I
appreciated the  work that he does for the  families of our fallen  soldiers.

The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake his hand.
He left the flight deck to find his seat.

We  completed our preflight checks, pushed back and  performed an uneventful
departure.

About  30 minutes into our flight I  received a call from the lead flight
attendant in the cabin.

‘I  just found out the family of the soldier we are carrying, is also on board’, she
said.
She then proceeded to tell me  that the father, mother, wife and 2-year old
daughter were escorting their son, husband, and father home.
The family was upset because they were  unable to see the container that the
soldier was in before we left.
We were on our way to a major hub at which the family was going to wait four
hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia   .

The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his son was
below him in the cargo compartment  and being unable to see him was too much for
him and  the family to bear.  He had  asked the flight  attendant if there was
anything that could be done to allow them to see him upon our arrival. The
family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the  soldier  being taken
off the airplane.. I could hear  the desperation in the  flight attendants voice
when she  asked me if there was anything I could do.. ‘I’m on it’, I said. I
told her that I would get back  to her.

Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the  form of  e-mail
like messages. I decided to  bypass this system and  contact my flight dispatcher  directly on a secondary radio.

There  is a radio operator in the operations control center who connects you to
the telephone of the dispatcher.

I was  in direct contact with the dispatcher..  I  explained the situation I had
on board with the family  and what it was the family wanted
He said he understood and that he would get back to me.

Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher.  We  were going to
get busy soon and I needed to  know what to tell the  family.
I sent a text message asking for an update.
I  saved the return message from the dispatcher and the following is  the 
text:

‘Captain,  sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There  is policy on 
this now and I had to check on a few  things.
Upon your arrival a dedicated escort team will meet the aircraft.
The team will escort the family to the ramp and plane side.  A van will be used
to load the remains with a secondary van for the family.  The family will be
taken to their departure area and escorted into the terminal where the remains
can be seen on the ramp. It is a private area for the family only.
When the connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto the ramp
and plane side to watch the remains being loaded for the final leg home.
Captain,  most of us here in flight control are veterans.  Please pass our
condolences on to the family.  Thanks.’

I  sent a message back telling flight control thanks for  a good job.
I printed out the message and gave  it to the lead flight  attendant to pass on
to the  father.
The lead flight  attendant was very  thankful and told me, ‘You  have no idea
how much this will mean to them.’

Things started getting busy for the descent, approach and  landing.
After landing, we cleared the runway  and taxied to the ramp area.
The ramp is huge with 15 gates on either side of the alleyway.
It  is always a busy area with aircraft maneuvering every which way to enter and
exit.
When we entered the ramp and checked in with the ramp controller,  we were told
that all traffic was being held for us.

‘There is a team in place to meet the  aircraft’, we were told.
It looked like it was all coming together, then I  realized that once we turned
the seat belt sign off,  everyone would stand up at once and delay the family
from getting off the airplane.
As we approached our gate, I asked the  co-pilot to tell the ramp controller we
were going to stop short of the gate to make an announcement to the passengers.
He did that and  the ramp controller said, ‘Take your time.’

I  stopped the aircraft and set the parking brake.
I pushed the  public address button and said,  ‘Ladies and gentleman, this is 
your Captain speaking I  have stopped short of our gate to make a  special 
announcement.
We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect.
His name is  Private XXXXXX,  a soldier who recently lost his life.
Private XXXXXX is  under your feet in the cargo hold.  Escorting him today 

is 
Army Sergeant  XXXXXXX
Also, on board are his father,  mother,  wife, and daughter.
Your entire flight crew is  asking for all passengers to remain in their seats
to  allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thank you.’
We continued the turn to the gate, came to a stop and started our shutdown
procedures.
A couple of  minutes later I opened the cockpit door.
I  found the two forward flight  attendants crying,  something you just do not
see. I was told  that  after we came to a stop, every passenger on the aircraft 
stayed in their seats, waiting for the family to exit the aircraft.

When the family got up and gathered their things, a  passenger slowly started
to clap his hands. Moments later more passengers joined in and soon the entire aircraft was clapping.
Words of ‘God  Bless You’, I’m sorry, thank you, be proud, and other kind 
words were uttered to the family as they made their  way down the aisle and out
of the airplane.  They  were escorted down to  the ramp to finally be with 
their loved one.

Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the  announcement I had
made. They were just words, I  told them,  I could  say them over and over again,  but
nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier.

I  respectfully ask that all of you reflect on this event  and the  sacrifices
that millions of our men and women  have made to ensure  our freedom and safety
in these United States of AMERICA.

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Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, www.OleSouth.com, 615.896.0019  direct 615.593.6340.  Specializing in new home sales in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, and Spring Hill, Tennessee

 
 
 

 

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